These U.S. states are most likely to legalize marijuana in 2020

Twitter icon

The cannabis advocacy community wants the nation to believe that 2019 was a banner year in the realm of marijuana reform. But the only things that really happened were that New York and New Jersey failed to make good on their word to legalize, Illinois followed through and the U.S. House of Representatives dilly-dallied with a couple of bills (SAFE and MORE Acts) that will never see the light of day.

This “banner” year that pro-pot organizations like NORML are so proud of really doesn’t equate to much. But we could have better luck next year. There are several states positioned to legalize marijuana in 2020. These are the five that seem to have the best chance at success.

New York

Although Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature failed to come to terms on legal weed in 2019, this clown shoe spectacle (brought on by arguments over taxes and social equity) puts the state in a better place to get something done next year. It is conceivable that a bill will be introduced soon that follows in the footsteps of Illinois, which was the first to legalize marijuana while making social equity a big part of the deal. If lawmakers start discussing this kind of legislation early in the next session, New York could easily become one of the next legal states.


Two marijuana voter initiatives are competing for a spot on the ballot in 2020. Both have managed to get to the judicial review phase of their campaigns by collecting 77,000 verified signatures. Where things get tight is they’ll need to submit another 766,200 signatures soon to qualify for a spot on the ballot. Supposing one or both can do that, Floridians will be voting for recreational marijuana in the 2020 election. Considering the success of medical marijuana in 2016, there is an excellent chance the voters will come out in support of this issue.

New Jersey

After the state failed to legalize marijuana in 2019, lawmakers swore that they were just going to turn the pot debate loose on the voters and see what happens. That is set to go down in 2020. Voters will get to decide in the November election whether adults 21 and over should have legal access to marijuana. Unlike other ballot measures we have seen in the past, this one doesn’t require signature collecting or any other hoop-jumping shenanigans to get done. New Jersey voters will simply answer the question when they head to the polls next year. If the latest surveys are accurate — 62 percent are in favour — the state seems poised to legalize the leaf.

It looks like Arizona stands a better-than-fair shot at legalizing weed next year. / Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images


Marijuana legalization failed at the ballot box back in 2016, but only by a couple of points. A pro-pot group called Smart and Safe Arizona is trying for a different outcome in 2020. It already has the support of the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries, and it should have no trouble collecting the signatures necessary to earn a spot on the ballot. There is, however, some opposition to the campaign. A small group of cannabis industry representatives are hoping to work with lawmakers in putting “good legislation” on the books. They’re not fans of the Smart and Safe Arizona plan because they believe its proposal would only serve large operations. Either way, it looks like Arizona stands a better-than-fair shot at legalizing weed next year.

New Mexico

The legislative stars are aligning for legal weed. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham says she supports legalization — recently launching a legislative panel to look into it — and lawmakers in both chambers of the legislature seem open to the discussion. The state recently decriminalized marijuana possession, so there may not be much stopping the powers that be from establishing a taxed and regulated market in the coming year. But lawmakers will have to act quickly. The state’s legislative session is limited to only 30 days in January.

In Ohio, the majority of the state stands wholeheartedly in favour of legalization. / Photo: Aleksandr_Kravtsov/Getty Images Photo: Aleksandr_Kravtsov/Getty Images

Be on the lookout for Ohio: Although no ballot initiative has been filed as of yet, there is a possibility that we could see pot advocates in Ohio pushing hard for recreational marijuana in the 2020 election. The majority of the state stands wholeheartedly in favour of legalization. It has for years. So, if a group can manage to get something on the ballot, it would likely pass with ease.

e-mail icon Facebook icon Twitter icon LinkedIn icon Reddit icon
Rate this article: 
Article category: